Statement from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt about sleeping controllers

Radarluv

Old Guy
Jul 17, 2008
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0
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Statement from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt


Over the last few weeks we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety. This conduct must stop immediately. I am committed to maintaining the highest level of public confidence and that begins with strong leadership.

This morning I met with the head of our Air Traffic Organization, the part of the Federal Aviation Administration charged with operating our air traffic control system. Hank Krakowski has submitted his resignation and I have accepted it. Hank is a dedicated aviation professional and I thank him for his service. Starting today, I have asked David Grizzle, FAA's chief counsel, to assume the role of acting ATO chief operating officer while we conduct a nationwide search to permanently fill the position.

We are conducting a top to bottom review of the way we operate our air traffic control system. We are all responsible and accountable for safety-from senior FAA leadership to the controller in the tower. Employees at the FAA work diligently every day to run the safest air transportation system in the world. But I will continue to make whatever changes are necessary to ensure we concentrate on keeping the traveling public safe.
 

WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
561
0
16
Arizona
Re: Statement from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt

Unnecessary political move. Fix the schedules and discipline the sleepers. Done.
 
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Rosstafari

Daaaang.
Aug 17, 2008
1,149
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/X
Re: Statement from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt

Probably caught Krakowski asleep in his office.
 

Rosstafari

Daaaang.
Aug 17, 2008
1,149
22
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Re: Statement from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt

P.S. Vote Rosstafari for ATO COO 2011.
 

xrayoscar28

Rookie
Oct 26, 2010
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Re: Statement from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt

Unnecessary political move. Fix the schedules and discipline the sleepers. Done.
I totally agree with you on that one my friend. Hank was a former chief pilot for United. He's been ATO Chief for a few years. My guess would be that this fast forwarded him out of the agency which I have a feeling he wanted out anyways. Thats just my theory.
 

RC4524

Senior Member
Jan 8, 2009
283
4
18
39
YNG
Re: Statement from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt

Unnecessary political move. Fix the schedules and discipline the sleepers. Done.
Could not have said it better myself.

Vote for Rossta! (I'll be your campaign manager.)
 

bobsparteedeck

Newcomer
Apr 19, 2011
2
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The problem with ATC's sleeping on the job stems from their schedule. Here is a typical schedule for a controller that has the midnight shift at the end of his/her week. Monday 4PM-midnight, Tuesday 2PM-10PM, Wednesday 8AM-4PM (a quick turn around), Thursday 6AM-2PM, then back Thursday night midnight-8AM (another quick turn around). Most controllers probably stay up all day and only take a two hour nap before they go back in for the mid shift. Every day they have less hours between shifts and two quick turns. They do this because when they get off work on their Friday morning, they don't have to be back to work until Monday at 4PM. This makes their two days off a three and a half day weekend. This type of schedule takes it's toll at the end of the week when it's time to work the mid shift and is proven to shorten their life span by 5 to 7 years. The best schedule would be to reverse this and have them start the week with a day shift and work toward evening shifts, thus giving them more time off between each shift as the week goes on. The problem in doing this is the controllers will not vote for this schedule because it shortens the time they have off on the weekends. It's obvious that the union is still running things since I retired and not the administration. It's time someone in Washington had the kahoonas to say enough is enough and turn their schedules around.
 
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WatchThis

Trusted Contributor
Apr 29, 2010
561
0
16
Arizona
All that to waste one day sleeping for recovery and end up with only two real days off anyway. The work week is ruined for trying to get anything done besides work and sleep. Seems like people need to wake up and see the schedule sucks.
 

atcguruaf

Rico Suave
Jan 4, 2009
1,377
0
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Right here
At the end, he says ".... to do whatever is necessary..." or something like that.

What he forgot to add is "except for listen to the experts and take their advice."

Wasted all that money on sleep studies. It could have gone this way.

Me - Mr. Babbitt, we should be able to nap on our breaks. What's the difference between that and watching T.V.? At least if we're napping for 20-30, we'd be well rested.

Mr. Babbitt - No.

Me - Okay, sir.

Cost = $0
 

eqfan592

Rookie
Mar 28, 2010
54
0
6
The problem with ATC's sleeping on the job stems from their schedule. Here is a typical schedule for a controller that has the midnight shift at the end of his/her week. Monday 4PM-midnight, Tuesday 2PM-10PM, Wednesday 8AM-4PM (a quick turn around), Thursday 6AM-2PM, then back Thursday night midnight-8AM (another quick turn around). Most controllers probably stay up all day and only take a two hour nap before they go back in for the mid shift. Every day they have less hours between shifts and two quick turns. They do this because when they get off work on their Friday morning, they don't have to be back to work until Monday at 4PM. This makes their two days off a three and a half day weekend. This type of schedule takes it's toll at the end of the week when it's time to work the mid shift and is proven to shorten their life span by 5 to 7 years. The best schedule would be to reverse this and have them start the week with a day shift and work toward evening shifts, thus giving them more time off between each shift as the week goes on. The problem in doing this is the controllers will not vote for this schedule because it shortens the time they have off on the weekends. It's obvious that the union is still running things since I retired and not the administration. It's time someone in Washington had the kahoonas to say enough is enough and turn their schedules around.
I think completely reversing it would be a bit extreme, but more space between shifts is possibly advisable. However, I will point out that the sleeping problems would be mitigated if the FAA were to make it mandatory that there are always at least 2 controllers in the tower (something that very same union you are vilifying has been pressing to have done for many years now).

EDIT: Not to mention some of the different things that could also be done (like allowing controllers to nap on their breaks) to help mitigate this problem without totally reversing the work schedules.
 

RC4524

Senior Member
Jan 8, 2009
283
4
18
39
YNG
At the end, he says ".... to do whatever is necessary..." or something like that.

What he forgot to add is "except for listen to the experts and take their advice."

Wasted all that money on sleep studies. It could have gone this way.

Me - Mr. Babbitt, we should be able to nap on our breaks. What's the difference between that and watching T.V.? At least if we're napping for 20-30, we'd be well rested.

Mr. Babbitt - No.

Me - Okay, sir.

Cost = $0
This. Infinitely, this. Win.
 

The Fold

Transmitting in the Blind
Apr 15, 2009
250
1
18
Florida
Why not do what Police / Fire do?

Work 4x 10 hour shifts... or 5x 8 hour shifts. All nights or all days. I work 3 days one week, at 12 hours a shift from 5p to 5a. The next week I work 4 days at 12 hour shifts. 5p to 5a. My sleep schedule is great. On my days off, I stay up just like normal.

Instead of selecting people who would want to work nights ( I like nights more than days ) they punish everyone. My fiancée says that I am obligated to tell you that she hates me working nights and would prefer that I work days.

Problem solved.
 

lunchbox

Asst to Regional Manager
Jun 2, 2009
2,396
3
38
Port Orange, FL
what about everyone that's fallen asleep over the past decades? so reactionary. the FAA should have worked on this long ago. maybe THEIR schedules are causing fatigue.

just saying.

kbye.

:patriot:
 

STL2CVG

Senior Analyst
Feb 2, 2009
893
2
18
Cincinnati
Why not do what Police / Fire do?

Work 4x 10 hour shifts... or 5x 8 hour shifts. All nights or all days. I work 3 days one week, at 12 hours a shift from 5p to 5a. The next week I work 4 days at 12 hour shifts. 5p to 5a. My sleep schedule is great. On my days off, I stay up just like normal.

Instead of selecting people who would want to work nights ( I like nights more than days ) they punish everyone. My fiancée says that I am obligated to tell you that she hates me working nights and would prefer that I work days.

Problem solved.
Paul Ranaldi mentioned this today when he and Randy Babbit visited OKC. The research they looked at that was given to them from studies was that working straight morning, then eve's, then mids actually created more fatigue.

And if you work (for example) 3 months of days, then eves, then mids, the longer schedule of mids like that make you lose your sharpness when it comes to working higher level of traffic because most facilities don't have any traffic on the mids.
 

The Fold

Transmitting in the Blind
Apr 15, 2009
250
1
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Florida
That is arguable - But I could see how that could be true at some airports. This could be negligible if split up into appropriate times, but they might not be very nice. i.e. 3A - 3P (you get the morning rush), 3P - 3A (you get the evening rush.)
 

STL2CVG

Senior Analyst
Feb 2, 2009
893
2
18
Cincinnati
That is arguable - But I could see how that could be true at some airports. This could be negligible if split up into appropriate times, but they might not be very nice. i.e. 3A - 3P (you get the morning rush), 3P - 3A (you get the evening rush.)
I believe it is true. What airports actually handle somewhat busy traffic on a consistent basis on the mids? MEM, SDF, IND, CVG? Maybe a few more, but the overall picture for Terminal facilities is that is a very slow period for them. If it was busy enough to keep a controllers "currency with busy traffic" then they would staff those facilities with more than one person in the tower, one in the radar room.

*note all of this above statement is just my own personal opinion. I have no data i've compiled. I am basing this off of general assumption*